Martin Muldoon shares his fears with us and reveals how he conquered them in order to race in the most glamorous of all Ironman races, the Ironman World Championships, on the big island of Hawaii. We learn from the mistakes he made in his first Kona experience and the valuable lesson it taught him in his quest to gain The Kona Edge.
BRAD BROWN: Welcome onto this edition of The Kona Edge, we head to London and not chatting to a Londoner per se, although he’s based in London, he’s an Irishman and a great pleasure to welcome onto the podcast today Martin Muldoon. Martin welcome, thanks for joining us.
MARTIN MULDOON: Thanks very much Brad, good chatting to you.
BRAD BROWN: Martin, we’re smack bang in the middle of the Olympics and I think worldwide people have fallen in love with the two Irish rowers, they’re putting Ireland on the map, aren’t they?
MARTIN MULDOON: They are indeed, they’re making a big impact for just two and I think it’s Ireland’s only medal at the minute, but what a way to do it. They’re strong lads, but apart from being good athletes, they’re obviously big characters as well. So I think everybody is having a good time watching these guys.
BRAD BROWN: And you’ve got to promise, next time you make it onto a podium, you have to wear your podium pants.
MARTIN MULDOON: Absolutely, I need to get myself a good pair, maybe from the Underpants Run in Hawaii, I’ll take them up onto the stage. I’ve never seen anybody do that, so it’s going to be a first.
BRAD BROWN: I love it! Martin, let’s talk about your journey into triathlon and where it all started for you. How did you get roped into and sucked into the sport because it is addictive and once you’re in, you can never get out.
Difficult times make you stronger
MARTIN MULDOON: You’re right there, it’s a very addictive sport. My journey, and I met a lot of people with a similar story, that came from some kind of a hardship. Some people went into the sport just because they’re very clean living, healthy, outdoor people and at times in the past I [inaudible 0.01.30]. But the reason I got into triathlon specifically was because, I’d just come through a tough period, the company I worked for at the time, this is going back about 12 years now, which is a bit scary to think how long it’s been. I couldn’t swim, but I was a runner when I was a kid, at national standard or at least provincial standard and so I had that background and knew how to run and it wouldn’t have taken too much training for me to get back into running.
I was working for a company that started to fold up and everybody lost their jobs, at the same time I was going through a really bad breakup after like a 9-10 year relationship. I put on all this weight and was carrying probably, considering I race at about 70kg now, I was about 90kg or close to 90kg, so I had to lose weight and I just started running. Running got me back into that endurance mindset and I started losing weight and within 6 months I was running 5km in 15-16 minutes. And then I met a few triathlete guys, I went to this little local duathlon north of London and from there met a few triathletes. It went from that.
Conquer your Ironman fears patiently
It took me a while to get into the water, I was afraid of water, I couldn’t swim, even at 30 I couldn’t swim. I couldn’t put my head under the water, so I had to learn from scratch and those first couple of years was pretty technically difficult and I had to overcome a lot of mental issues with getting comfortable breathing under water. And especially racing in and among, beside other people, when I was really unorthodox and uncomfortable doing that.
That was hard, those first couple of years, but certainly you get that nice feeling when you come over the line. It doesn’t matter what kind of race it is, especially if you’re finishing with a run, which was always my strong point. I just got addicted to that feeling of getting over the line and being out there and doing it. It came from hardship really and the longer I’ve been in the sport, the more and more people I realize that have come from some kind of pain or some kind of a challenge that they’ve had to overcome.
And then they take to it from that and then you get addicted and from there it’s not that, it’s something else, you just enjoy doing the sport and you want to be fit and healthy. It’s continued in a bit more of a positive way, but it started out in a very negative way, but at least it got me into the sport and that’s the main thing.
BRAD BROWN: It’s a great environment and community to be around as well. Tell me a little bit about your childhood. You mentioned running competitively at a national/provincial level, you were obviously very competitive as a kid. Did it come easy to you or was it hard work?
MARTIN MULDOON: It was easy in that , I can’t even remember, I was really young when I started playing Gaelic football, where I’m from. The two main sports would be Gaelic football and hurling, which is Gaelic football is a bit similar to Aussie rules, if you’ve never seen it. Hurling is a mix between hockey and, well, it’s a bit like hockey, but the sticks are in the air and it’s a little bit more crazy and at high speed. My village played Gaelic football, so the running was part of that and then the fitter you were, the longer you could play for and it helped your game.
I wasn’t technically good at the game, but I was good with the running and the jumping part. Certainly when I was 12/13, going on 14, I was in a running club and me and another fellow, we were probably one, two and Ulster, which is the Northern Province in Ireland, we’d go and race in other parts of Ireland. We usually did pretty well up in the top five around Ireland. At 13 I was probably running faster times over 800 and 1 500 than I’ve ever done since. I mean I pretty much gave it up seriously by 14 or 15, I started cycling, but at that age, if you’re pushing out those times as a kid, then that’s the sort of young ones that would go on and become international etc.
By the time I was 16/17, studying and at college and stuff, you discover alcohol and women, that sort of thing. So those went by the wayside, but thankfully it stayed with me and the background and like I say, you can tap into it every 6 months. Back into running and lose a bit of weight and you’d probably run a bit faster than most people. It was a good background to have, that’s for sure.
BRAD BROWN: Having achieved what you’ve achieved now and looking back, do you regret that you didn’t pursue it more seriously?
MARTIN MULDOON: Definitely. I think in the early days, when I was struggling to get fit and people were running away from me in races in the early triathlons and duathlon, that was probably mostly due to the fact that I couldn’t swim or bike properly. But if I was asked would I rather have done it the way I’ve done it, as in really good at it and done nothing and come back to it, or been really good for 10 years and now be out of shape. I’d much rather do it how I’ve done it, now I’m 42 and I’m very interested and it’s a great sport. It keeps me more fit and healthy than normal people my age.
There’s people, really good people, family and people I work with, people I meet just outside the sport, at my age and there’s a significant difference when I see, health-wise, people complain about certain health issues that I just don’t have because I spent 20-25 hours a week doing exercise and most normal people don’t really do anything at all. Yeah, I think I’d rather have missed out a few years in the early days and perhaps missed out on some glory when I was a good runner when I was say 18 or 20. But I’m 42 and I’m fit, so I guess it could be a lot worse.
BRAD BROWN: It’s interesting too, it’s very seldom that you get somebody that is competitive at that level from a youngster, being a teenager, all the way through to their 40’s. Burnout is such a real thing and sometimes having a break like that is actually good for you.
MARTIN MULDOON: Definitely and I think apart from the physical side, I think the mental side of burnout is something that people underestimate. And people who are new to the sport realize that it exists because it takes a few years for someone to get burnt out properly. I’ve seen me been really aggressive, not aggressive, but been really forward with my coach, trying to push him and push him and trying to get him to give me really aggressive training plans because I’m all motivated in the New Year. And he’s like, just calm down, we’ll do it in a modular structure and do it in a way that we know you can handle.
He’s a very scientific coach, a guy called Alan Couzens, he’s actually Aussie, but he’s based in Boulder and he’s a proper self-confessed science geek, so he’s big into the numbers. But he finds a huge amount of correlation and he can prove it with math that if you into aggressive, there’s physical reasons why, scientific reasons why you break.
Some people can handle a huge amount of volume without getting tired, without getting sick. But I’m not one of them. If I was following the same plan as my buddy who is also coached by Alan, he can train 30 hours a week and he just never gets tired, never gets sick. If I did that, I’d be out of action, I probably would have left the sport a couple of years ago. Having a smart coach that can tell you to pull back, de-stress, keep your energy levels good, especially when you’re mixing them with a job, you need to be really smart with that and each athlete is different. I think avoiding burnout is different for everybody and I think it’s a very important thing to look into. So, something that we’ll talk about a little briefly later at HRV.
BRAD BROWN: Martin, I find it interesting you say he’s a smart coach, but it takes a smart athlete to be able to listen to a smart coach.
MARTIN MULDOON: Yeah, even if you’re not too smart about it, if you listen, that’s a very good point because if you’re someone who is obviously into the numbers and monitors what you do, gives you feedback based on it. Whether that be, you can push a little bit more or the thing that you don’t hear so much of is to ease back, is probably not enough coaches out there that watch their athletes closely and tell them that they’re dangerously close to burnout or an injury or just getting sick. We all know, it’s something you hear all the time, about consistency being really important and if you’re getting sick once a month or once every two months, you can just watch the graphs on training peaks drop out every time you get sick. You’re kind of working really hard for 6 weeks, you lose 10 days for sickness, you’re kind of back to where you were two months ago. Avoiding sickness is a very good strategy to slowly getting fitter and yeah, so I think it’s a very important thing to monitor.
BRAD BROWN: Talk to me about the decision, obviously you moved from running into duathlon and then deciding to do your first triathlon and having to learn how to swim, that’s huge. The decision to do your first one, you’d obviously done some swim training or did you jump in feet first and go, you know what, let’s put some pressure on myself to learn to swim.
MARTIN MULDOON: Yeah, I can swim and keep my head above the water, but it’s something you couldn’t do in a race. I could do the breaststroke but I’m a very competitive person, because I did those sports when I was very young. I just have that thing where I want to win, I want to do well. I was in a team, Gaelic football I won a lot of stuff. And I think that mentality was still there and the fact that I couldn’t swim is difficult for me because I was getting out of the water 5-10 minutes behind other people. And so it was in my interest as a competitive person to try and improve my swimming. I was really starting from scratch. I went to lessons with these old ladies and young kids that literally couldn’t swim at all and had just gone back to scratch and tried to go right from the start again. And it did me good because I learnt the proper techniques. Some of my swim clubs say I still can’t swim. But it’s certainly 10 times better than it used to be and since then I’ve done a lot of work with it. So it’s a lot more respectable than it used to be, but it’s still questionable I would say.
BRAD BROWN: I love that. Martin, the decision to do the long ones, there’s lots, particularly in the UK, there’s so many triathlons. And not just the long stuff, there’s sprints, there’s Olympic distance. What pulled you towards the longer stuff?
Build on a plan
MARTIN MULDOON: I think looking at a far reaching goal in the distance, so I didn’t rush into it. I probably did my first triathlon when I was about 30 and I gave myself a five year plan because I’d read about Ironman. I’d heard about it and I’d seen clips of it on TV and I just thought it was some crazy sport that other people do. But when I finally got to do a sprint, even though the swim scared the life out of me, I went off too hard. I thought I was going to drown in the water. Swimming over, somebody swam over the top of me and I was already claustrophobic and nervous in the water, so to consider doing ten times that distance in the water was really frightening. I thought if I gave myself time, I thought by the time I’m 35, I’m going to do an Ironman. So I just built this long, slow climb towards doing it and that’s exactly what I did
By the time I was 35 I finally did an Ironman, but I did it properly in that I built a plan. I got a good coach and maybe my first Ironman itself didn’t go as planned but that was probably because I didn’t follow the plan on the day. But I certainly think going long is a big challenge for anybody coming into the sport. You’re always going to have at least one weakness you have to work on and I think it’s good to give a time. And I guess you’re less likely to burnout as well if you do it slowly, go slowly towards your goal.
BRAD BROWN: Tell me about that first one, I love hearing stories where things don’t go according to plan. I think it gives the rest of us hope. What went wrong in your first one and how did things go?
How thing go wrong when you don’t stick to your plan
MARTIN MULDOON: It was in Germany and it’s a great one to do, whether you’re experienced or not. The Germans are big into Ironman and very organized, everything is done perfectly. The whole efficiency of the organization is done so well, it’s really impressive. I had this brilliant plan. I went in, I was properly trained, I was fit, I was following a guy called Gordo Byrn who is a colleague of my coach Alan. They worked for Endurance Corner and they’re very disciplined, very strategic in how they go in towards these races. It’s not just going and hitting it hard, it’s a very thought out process. I had this brilliant plan with Gordo, this was before I met Alan. And the plan itself, it’s similar to a plan I would follow now, it’s very structured, it’s about holding back and trying to be strong at the end. And looking after nutrition and all that sort of stuff, what to do with tapering, all that type of thing.
However, on race day, decent swim, maybe a little bit too fast. On the bike I held back, so I was fairly civilized on the bike. But maybe in both of those disciplines I was just slightly, you know how Ironman is, if you go just slightly over your threshold it’s asking for trouble. And sure enough that 1-2% that I went over, just from the excitement of race day and maybe I got caught racing a few times.
On the run, I’m a runner, I’m confident on the run. So the first 10km I’m 42 minutes and I’m feeling fantastic, probably sitting on close to World Record pace on the run! Not realizing what was about to come and this guy came past me, an Irish fellow that I recognized. He was quite well known back home in the triathlon circles, I think he’d been to Kona already and I had a lot of respect for this guy.
But it felt like an easy pace, we’re sitting round about 4 minutes per K and it was only easy because that was only 10km in, but he went on to qualify for Kona and 15km in I completely exploded. I fell apart, I had to stop and walk through every aid station. I ran out of energy, muscles were fatigued, I was dehydrated. Ran out of salt, so was cramping and I mean halfway through the run, 20km in, still 20km to go and I seriously thought I was just going to pack it in because I didn’t think I could finish. But somehow got jogging again and patched it together and made it over the finish line. But very disappointed that I hadn’t followed my plan. I actually followed the plan pretty close up until the run and then I just got caught racing somebody. So yeah, I learnt a lot from that race and every Ironman I did since that, I qualified for Kona, so I had a plan. I followed it, but that day I had a good plan, I just didn’t quite follow it and it showed me the importance of not getting excited, not getting carried away.
Learning from a painful experience
No matter how good you feel at certain points in the race, that you still have to stick to the plan. It’s not about how you feel then, it’s about how you feel two hours later or four hours later. It’s a very long day, it’s a very strategic type of distance.
BRAD BROWN: Are you grateful you learnt that lesson early on in your Ironman career?
MARTIN MULDOON: Definitely. I still do races where I struggle, it’s probably now more to do with, if I have problems in the buildup with fitness and things like that, but I learnt, it was such a painful lesson. Definitely the worst blowup I had and when you go through that much pain, it sort of burns something into your brain that you never forget. And I think that actually helped me long term to not make the same mistakes again. I think doing that in my first Ironman, it was a bit of a painful lesson, but it was a good one.
BRAD BROWN: Did you say to yourself afterwards you never want to do that again?
MARTIN MULDOON: Yeah, definitely. I got a bit depressed, but partly because part of that plan was Kona as well. The long term goal for me was Kona and being as competitive as I am, Kona, was part of that plan. The fact that I missed it, Germany is very competitive, so I was only probably 20 minutes off the Kona qualifiers. But 20 minutes as we all know, is quite a big chunk of time in Ironman if you’re competitive. I found that very frustrating. I was annoyed at myself for blowing up, for not following the plan. And of course as time goes on and you watch all these other guys go to Kona and you’re sitting at home planning next year, I was a bit down about it. Yeah, it was difficult. But like you said earlier, I learnt a lot from it and I didn’t make, at least I didn’t make that mistake again. I made some other mistakes.
BRAD BROWN: You mentioned every Ironman since then, you’ve qualified. Kona has become quite a big part of what you do and what drives you. That second one, how long after the first one did you go back and give it another bash?
MARTIN MULDOON: With the standard layout of Ironman in Europe, unless you’re going to attack more than one a year, which I’ve never had ambition to do more than one as a qualifier, so I waited about a year. So I did Switzerland the following year and I was nervous, probably because of Germany. I lost some confidence, I was very ambitious but I wasn’t confident. And so going into that race, I had no idea what was going to happen. I was obviously hoping for a Kona slot and a good friend of mine Owen, another Irish lad, we were very strong, me and him have always been neck on neck, we came through the ranks together. He had just qualified and he’s a very down to earth, straight talking lad. There’s no big talk, there’s no fancy strategies, it’s just he’s got a very structured method of going in to do it and does all the work.
He’d just qualified and I had a chat with him and I was having a bit of a crisis, I just didn’t believe in myself. And he gave me a bit of a slap and I came out of that conversation feeling a lot more confident. And sure enough, I went into Switzerland, I had a good race, didn’t do anything exciting. I just did through each discipline in a kind of regulated way and I came out, thankfully having a strong run, I think it was close to 3 hours, which for me is not particularly fast.
But I realized that in Ironman, if you have that strength at the back of the race and you haven’t blown up your legs on the bike, then that’s going to pull you down into the lower rankings of your race group, which it did that day and it got me the slot. For me it was a big milestone, a big achievement, so I was just delighted after that.
BRAD BROWN: Talk to me about surrounding yourself with people who have done what you’re trying to achieve. That’s a great example of finding someone who has got the experience, that you can pick their brain. Is that a huge part of what you do as well Martin?
Being selective with training partners
MARTIN MULDOON: It is, it certainly was then. These days I think you just become very specific and you have a very scientific coach who gives you very specific sets. I don’t train as much these days with other people. The two or three guys that I do train with are all, mostly Kona qualifiers. There’s a lad I train with sometimes on the bike who is a big biker, much stronger than me. So it’s good to have people like that around you as well, but he doesn’t really do Ironman.
Apart from that, anybody I train with would tend to be Kona qualifiers or aiming for Kona type of thing. Back then it was very important to me, Owen had done it, I’d seen him come from a background of getting into Ironman 11 hours type guy. But then when I met him, he was just breaking into that sub 10 and now he’s regularly round about 9 hours, he’s broken 9 hours as well. I sort of met Owen just as he was getting really strong. I think it’s important, over here in London. The club I was in, there were three or four people of a similar standard. There was a girl in the club who had been to Kona and I just admired these people.
To me it was like this dream, you see it on TV and to meet somebody that had actually been there, it was a big thing for me. I was just waiting on every word they said and listened to all their advice and you’ve got to respect people that have done it because you can’t fluke your way into qualifying for Kona, it’s not an easy thing. Even now, I’ve done it seven times in a row, but that doesn’t mean it’s been easy.
Every year has been completely different. A different race, different part of the world, different build. I’ve had injuries, I’ve had sickness and there’s always obstacles. I don’t know anybody that goes into qualifying for Kona straight through and making it easy because if that’s the case, they’re either extremely talented and lucky. Or they’re just making up stories because I don’t know of anybody that can qualify for Kona easily and I certainly don’t find it easy these days still.
BRAD BROWN: Let’s talk about what it takes. You work, you’ve got a life outside of triathlon. What do you do for a living and how do you get that juggle right? That’s a big thing, time management that age groupers really struggle with.
Ironman training brings relief when pressures loom
MARTIN MULDOON: That’s right and I’m a lot better at it these days. The early days I really struggled and I had a few clashes with my boss. Back in the early days qualifying, my boss, I didn’t tell him much about what we did because to the outside, someone who doesn’t understand sport, you tell somebody you train 20 hours a week, they think you’re crazy. And I think the problem was that I didn’t want him to know that I had that kind of focus on something outside of work. Our job is quite intense, I design systems for connecting banks. There’s Cisco coding, Cisco engineering type work and I know my whole background is engineering. So what we do now is, there’s a small amount of big customers, like big banks and exchanges. So I do a bit of work for London stock exchange and people like that. It’s flexible where you can be, so I can work at home some days and that’s good. That helps you escape out at lunch time for a run if you have to, but when there’s pressure on us guys, which sometimes happens, it can be really intense. And that can certainly take your focus away from the Ironman stuff where you might have to support some job in [inaudible 0.23.30], which means of course that you’re working through the night.
I try to avoid stuff like that happening very often. But it does happen and it’s unfair on your colleagues to expect them to cover you, you have to do your part. It’s probably anything from 35 to 55 hours a week. Obviously the really bad weeks are 50-60, they don’t happen that often these days. But if they do happen, that makes Ironman training extremely difficult.
I have a wife, we have a life that involves sport and health, but we don’t have children, so that makes a big difference. Whereas my colleagues, they all have children and that’s their life outside work. For me, it’s Ironman. Me and Sarah do our thing, we go for walks and stuff, but other than that, it’s just work. There’s not much social life involved at the minute.
BRAD BROWN: You talk about having quite an intense job, do you find that helps sometimes, to switch off. That you’re not just thinking about triathlon either?
MARTIN MULDOON: Yeah, definitely. I think stress in life, in any form, whether it’s a personal problem or something to do with work or stress that comes from family or anything at all. Going for a run, heading out on the bike or go for a swim or something. I always find that’s a de-stressor. I know there’s scientific reasons for that, to do with endorphins and things like that, but regardless of the reason, I think we all agree in the sport, it’s part of why we’re addicted.
It takes you away from the real world which sometimes is a great place, but a lot of the time it’s not. There’s a reason why they pay us for doing these jobs, because quite often it’s a bit of a slog. And it can be really stressful and hard work and it is good to get away from that. It’s good to have a place where you can expend that energy and come back feeling better. So I think we’re quite lucky in that way.
BRAD BROWN: Coming from an engineering background, just by chatting to you, I get the feeling that you’ve approached this thing from a very analytical point of view and you spoke about the coaches you’ve used. Talk to me about the decision, did you from the start have a coach or did you try and wing things a bit by yourself first and then realize, hang on a sec, I need help?
The value of your Ironman coach
MARTIN MULDOON: Yeah, I tried myself, I think anybody who is out there runs really hard every day, will get fast for about a month, maybe two months and then you plateau. There’s races where they hand out the old, one guy in the US, his name has gone out my head, there’s a lot of methods that the American coaches used in the 60’s and 70’s. Where you do speed work and then you switch back to long tempo runs and when your efficiency improves, you go back to speed work. I was probably doing that without realizing I was doing it. I was just doing it because I wanted to run.
There was no real science behind what I was doing, but it wasn’t until I started reading articles by Alan, my current coach, he’s actually been my coach for six years now. A very scientific guy, but communicating his articles, they’re written in a way that anybody can understand them. There is a bit of numbers in there, but the majority of the article is trying to make sense of the science and it’s very readable. I really enjoyed that and I started trying to follow some of those methods and I realized then that Alan was actually coaching individuals.
I contacted him after being with two or three different coaches that didn’t quite work out for me. Alan was just an immediate hit. I love his methods of doing things and the fact that he can explain to you in a very detailed, scientific method why he was doing it and what’s the point of each session we’re doing. He was certainly a good man for me and he has been since, so no looking back.
BRAD BROWN: Talk to me about making sure there’s a point to each session because that’s one thing that I find a lot of guys just end up going out to train for the sake of training. They don’t realize why they’re doing what it is they’re doing, even if they are working with a coach. They’re doing the session, but not really thinking about the session.
MARTIN MULDOON: I think one benefit from that is that you’re out there and you’re exercising and you’re chatting to people and it’s very good for your health. It’s good for your mindset, but if you want to be really competitive and you want to try and peak properly for a specific competition or a certain part of the season, then I think you do need to get a bit scientific.
Even if you don’t quite follow why you’re doing it, you need a coach who does, then you just listen to what they’re telling you. I know a few people like that. There’s no gain in that, either they’re too busy working to ask the coach why they’re doing a certain session or they’re just non-technical people and that’s all right. Some people have no real interest in why they’re doing it, as long as they know their coach is smart.
For me, I’ve always been, had that analytical interest, my head is interested in why we’re doing something. Alan, if you do stop to ask, he can tell you in as much detail as you want and I sort of switch off once he gets to algorithms, but everything up to that point, I found it interesting, I found it fascinating.
A lot of the sessions he has me doing are purely for recovery, so he’ll write in, we use training peaks, so he’ll put a little comment in there saying ‘this structure here is purely about recovery’ he’s got me doing a one hour run, but he wants me to walk some of it. He wants me to make sure it’s conversational, do a few drills. It’s probably more sessions than not are about recovery rather than key sessions, trying to break you a bit so that you can rebuild stronger. A lot of it is very technical. Some of them are purely so that your body recovers because especially someone my age, you’ve got to take recovery really seriously or you’ll never get faster.
BRAD BROWN: Tell me about your first experience on the Big Island. Everyone’s first Ironman they’ll always remember, but the first experience in Kona is also pretty special.
The glamour of experiencing The Kona Edge
MARTIN MULDOON: It is, it’s a bit scary as well. It’s a very glamorous thing. You turn up and it’s very intimidating because everybody is tanned up and they’re full of muscles and everybody is bouncing along Alii Drive and you’re there just feeling very ordinary and you’re a bit afraid. But certainly, as a triathlete, someone who came through it, admired those people and then suddenly you’re there, you’re one of them. And the other thing is, I noticed the race itself was really difficult. You’re sort of caught up with the whole atmosphere and the 10 days running into it. You’re surrounded by your heroes and Chrissie Wellington is running past and Craig Alexander is running in the other direction and you’re high-fiving these guys and then it comes to the Saturday, the second weekend and it’s like, hold on a second, we’ve got a huge race here and it’s actually a really tough course. Most people fall apart right there. The race itself was extremely tough, I found it hard. But I think I gave it so much respect, if anything, I probably held back a little bit too much.
My first time there was the slowest, but I don’t think that’s a bad way to do it. I think it’s better to go in there and maybe have 5% left at the end rather than going 5-10% over and having to walk the last 10km. It’s a great experience, it’s glamorous. It’s like the Hollywood Red Carpet version of the sport and unless you’re ITU and going to the Olympics, if you’re an age grouper and you’re a long distance person, that’s the pinnacle event and it’s a great experience. Certainly the thing that some people forget out is that there’s a huge difficult race right near the end of the trip, so don’t lose sight of that.
BRAD BROWN: What are you most proud of that you’ve done on the Big Island?
MARTIN MULDOON: Anybody who ever asks me that, I always say 2012, which was my 3rd time there. I wasn’t particularly fast, my placing wasn’t particularly high, but just the way I structured the race and how I felt during the race, I think I was about 10 minutes off my best and I was just inside the Top 20, which is not special. I’ve been a lot faster and higher placed than that in the past. But that day I did it in a way that I felt strong at the end of the bike and coming past the airport in Hawaii, you’ve still a fair bit to go on the bike, but you’re getting very close to the transition T2 and I felt strong. No cramps and I felt ready to run, which is very rare in an Ironman, getting off the bike thinking, actually looking forward to the marathon here.
That year I ran strong and I placed fairly well, it was probably at that time one of my better performances and I think that’s the one I’m most proud of. Like I said, it’s not my fastest and it’s certainly not my highest placing, but just the way I felt so good during the whole race. When I got over the line I was tired, but not falling apart completely and I was able to recover within a couple of days. At least physically I was able to walk properly, which is also a rare thing after an Ironman. Not a glamorous proudest moment, but certainly one that I felt good about, for myself. I felt it was a good performance.
BRAD BROWN: If you could go back and talk to yourself getting into the sport now, knowing what you know now, what would you tell yourself back then?
Investing in a coach is money well spent
MARTIN MULDOON: There’s so much I’ve learnt. I would certainly make a change on my early nutrition. I wasn’t very smart with that in the early days. I didn’t read about it, I think I was just being crude and just getting in and hitting it hard, kind of the way we did as kids. Doing football or running, you just go hard and you can get off that at a young age. But once you hit 30 and certainly when you hit 40, you have to be very specific about nutrition.
The other thing I would say is having that structured training plan and having a good coach. I didn’t meet Alan until I was 35, which was five years into the sport. I think having someone like him in the early days would have helped me hugely because not only would I have responded better to training then because I was younger, but I would have improved a lot quicker because I had a lot of plateaus during the early days because I didn’t know what I was doing. I was just going out and training hard every day. I wondered why I was always feeling tired and wondered why I wasn’t really improving.
I would say, do the reading, get a smart coach if you can, it’s worth paying good money for because you think of ways you can waste money in modern life and most of it is just completely ridiculous, you don’t get anything back from it apart from maybe a sore head or a bit of a bigger stomach. If you can pay good money for a decent coach, it’s money well spent I think.
BRAD BROWN: Could not agree more. Martin, thank you so much for your time here on The Kona Edge. I look forward to getting you back on to talk a little bit about the swim, the bike, the run and nutrition in the weeks to come. But we’ll save that for another time, thanks for joining us.
MARTIN MULDOON: No problem, thanks buddy, good chatting to you.